Friday, 12 October, Brigadier General Gordon B. Davis, Deputy Commanding General, Combined Arms Center for Leader Development and Education and the Deputy Commandant of the US Army Command and General Staff College, provided an introduction to Mission Command activities scheduled the week of 15 October. The briefing began with a detailed review of 15-19 October where guest speakers will include, among others, General Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps. Importantly, it appears that the Mission Command focus week is a grounding of the principle which is expected to permeate the CGSOC curriculum. Should this week have occurred earlier in the student year in order to set the stage for the entire course?
Immediately after the introduction, and an explanation that Mission Command week was directed by General Odierno, USA Chief of Staff, a video was shown of General Odierno outlining his intent for the Mission Command focus week. General Odierno went on to stress a couple of key points to consider during the week. The first was the recognition an ever changing enemy no longer confined to stable nation states. He mentioned contested & failing states, criminal organizations, and those that would exploit technology as some of our biggest threats. The second was the need to exploit fleeting opportunities with confidence. The last point the Chief of Staff made was to ultimately consider three things throughout the Understand, Visualize, Describe, and Direct cycle: #1) Communicate—early & often #2) Lead, think, change and adapt #3) Constantly assess the operational environment to ultimately achieve unity of effort. Finally, General Odierno requested feedback from the students at the end of the week. Will feedback from these sessions help shape how the Army implements the concept of Mission Command throughout not only the officer corps, but also the enlisted force?
Following the Chief of Staff video Brigadier General Davis gave a short breakdown of what he wants the students to concentrate on during the coming week. He first emphasized that he believes Mission Command is the right framework for operating in the uncertain operational environment we find ourselves in. Subsequently, he hit on four major concepts for the week. #1) Mission Command is NOT a new concept #2) Mission Command is part of a much larger Army effort #3) Mission Command is a key joint force concept #4) Mission Command is not appropriate in all situations. Interesting concept; are there really situations where the concepts of mission command should not be applied?
In conclusion, Brigadier General Davis asked the class to consider three questions of themselves during the Mission Command week. #1) How do commanders and staff build trust and shared understanding? #2) How do you set conditions for mission command in training and education? #3) How do you integrate essential leadership traits and attributes into Mission Command? The training aspect is interesting here as well as the idea of allowing subordinate leaders to FAIL in order to learn. Has the Army embraced a culture of learning from failures in training in order to succeed in war?
–MAJ Chad Steipp, SG 23A, CGSOC